by Anna John
Details have started emerging regarding Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley II—Electric Boogaloo. Stand up and put your hand over your heart for singer Ashanti, who has been summoned all the way from the year 2002 to sing the national anthem for the highly-anticipated HBO Pay Per View event that’s going down on April 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas, the Grammy award-winning singer whose eponymous debut album outsold Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill’s respective debuts in April of 2002 actually has familial ties to the Sweet Science. She will be rooting for Manny Pacquiao, according to a release from Pacquiao promoter Top Rank.
"I’m such a huge fan of Manny Pacquiao! I have family in the boxing business — Howard Davis, Jr. and Dyah Davis,” Ashanti said.
Pacquiao, who has been known to rock a mic himself, personally asked Ashanti to serenade the millions who will be tuning in after the two found themselves seated together recently at Madison Square Garden.
"Ashanti and I first met on February 5 in New York when we found ourselves sitting next to each other courtside at a Knicks game. I told her I was a big fan and asked her if she would sing the U.S. National Anthem at my fight against Timothy Bradley," Pacquiao said.
"She quickly checked her schedule and then said she could and she would. The Knicks may have lost that night but I felt like the biggest winner in the world when I walked out of Madison Square Garden."
Today marks the release date of Ashanti’s latest album, “Braveheart”. The Long Island native is also a dancer, actress, and record producer. Her enthusiasm for the rematch is palpable: “I can’t wait. I actually love boxing! Manny’s such a champion and I can’t wait to cheer him on!”
Pacquiao hasn’t fought in the United States since 2012, when Bradley ended the Filipino politician’s seven-year winning streak in one of the worst judging robberies in boxing history. The split decision for Bradley spawned a massive controversy among boxing fans, since most (including us) thought Pacquiao had won the fight handily.
So this rematch felt inevitable. And now, it’s musical, too.